China launches FTA negotiations with Palestine

The document signed on Tuesday to start China-Palestine free trade talks indicates China attaches great value to bilateral ties and there are increasingly high hopes in the region that China will play a more constructive role in helping settle regional disputes, said Chinese observers on Wednesday.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan's meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on starting free trade agreement (FTA) talks between the two sides and other documents, after a meeting between the two in the Palestinian city of Ramallah on Tuesday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

A strong political message has been sent that "China has not left out Palestine from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), even if many other world powers choose to marginalize it due to the Palestinian issue," Li Jianwei, director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

China will play a bigger and more constructive role in the region especially to help create a more stable trade and investment environment in the surroundings, Li noted.

According to data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the bilateral trade volume between China and Palestine reached $69.28 million in 2017, a 16.2 percent year-on-year growth.

The feasibility research on free trade between the two sides was launched in November 2017 and broad consensus was reached.

Both sides agreed that the free trade agreement will benefit more people and businesses from the two countries, read a ministry statement on Wednesday.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary on the establishment of formal ties between the two countries.

Wang called for concerted global efforts to push for a just end to the Palestinian-Israeli issue on the basis of a two-state solution, while noting that since the initiation of the Middle East peace process, China has supported the Palestinians and the Israelis in resolving their dispute through peaceful negotiations, during his meeting with the Palestinian leader, Xinhua reported.

On bilateral relations, Wang said China appreciates and welcomes Palestine's active participation in Belt and Road construction, encourages competent Chinese businesses to invest in Palestine and will continue to support Palestine's national development.

Hamdallah said the Palestinian side highly appreciates China's steadfast support for the just cause of the Palestinian people as well as its objective and just stance on the Palestinian issue.

Wang is visiting Israel, Palestine, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates until October 30 and Palestine is his second stop on his Middle East trip.

During his stay in Ramallah, the Chinese vice president also laid a wreath at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Editor: 曹家宁